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Is Illinois Football Back?



Illinois football

Illinois Football is Back!

Despite ending the 2022-23 season with a loss, Illinois Football has proven to fans that they are a true program. Illinois finished the season 8-5, their first winning season since 2011. In Bret Bielema’s second year, Illinois showed stability and the formation of an identity that proved competent in the Big Ten West.  Though there are certainly critiques to take away from this season, Illinois showed quite a lot this year. Despite also losing Defensive Coordinator, Ryan Walters and two very significant assistant coaches, Bret Bielema has instilled a confidence and hope that he will replete this staff.

The Good:

To start with the in-season competence, Illinois was 7-1 at one point. With 1 very close loss to Indiana, Illinois was a candidate to win double digit games and held the Big Ten West Championship in the palm of their hands. Though they unfortunately showed that they were not ready to capitalize and assert their flag into the success, Bielema’s win streak showed to be sustainable and replicable. With the 45th ranked recruiting class according to 247sports, Bielema has the tools in place to continue building upon this stellar year. Also, Illinois continued to show effective defensive play during their Bowl Game loss to Mississippi State. Illinois also held the opportunity to win double digit games. All 5 of their losses held a single digit deficit, and a majority of these were losses where Illinois held opportunities to win. This leads us to our next section


The Concern:

Mixed in with the good is the fact that Illinois let somethings slip through their hands. Zach Leslie tweeted out from our account a very well-done explanation with context of how Illinois’ successful season really should be viewed.   The two losses that stick out to me are the games against Indiana and Purdue. Losing against a mediocre Indiana team really took the wind out of our sails early on and was an unnecessary road block to 10 wins. The loss to Purdue practically confirmed that Illinois would not win the Big Ten West. The fact that Illinois had ‘its best season in 10 years” only to finish 8-5 with an older roster leaves some concern. Illinois loses Chase Brown, Sydney Brown, Devon Witherspoon, Quan Martin and possibly more to the NFL draft.

Ryan Walters also left Illinois while taking top assistants, Cory Patterson and Kevin Kane. Illinois will also once again rely on a transfer quarterback to continue the ship of good success.




Alex is the Owner of, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is also the lead content creator and lead editor of all articles on Armchair Illini. He has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS Sports and more.